Weekend round-up: Scottish success in Karlstad

sco senior women gold
Senior women’s world champions – Team Scotland (photo: World Curling Federation/Celine Stucki)

The Scottish teams in Karlstad, Sweden, for the World Mixed Doubles and World Senior Curling Championships made quite an impact on the global stage.

The senior women’s team skipped by Jackie Lockhart won gold, while mixed doubles pairing Gina Aitken and Bruce Mouat pulled off some shocks on their way to a fourth place finish.

Meanwhile, at the European Masters in St Gallen, Switzerland, Team Murdoch won the men’s competition and Team Muirhead were runners-up in the women’s.

***

At the World Mixed Doubles, Scotland (Gina Aitken and Bruce Mouat) were in a tough group (three of the top six teams in the final standings appearing in it) but got off to a brilliant start by beating Russia 9-8, scoring two in end eight and stealing one in the extra end.

They crashed back down to earth with a bump, losing 8-2 to the Czech Republic, and although they defeated Wales 8-4 and Qatar 19-0, they were W3 L2 and just clinging onto their playoff hopes after being beaten 9-7 by Estonia.

But they secured a tiebreaker by beating Brazil 12-2, which set up a rematch with the Czechs – this time Scotland emerged as winner, Aitken making a superb runback in the extra end to win 6-5.

Wales (Dawn Watson and Adrian Meikle) were W1 L5 in Group F, their victory coming against Qatar, 13-2.

England (Anna and Ben Fowler) qualified in second from Group C, having beaten Romania 9-2, Luxembourg 11-2 and Kazakhstan 9-2, losing 9-4 to Norway, then defeating Japan 10-2 and Turkey 8-2.

And Ireland (Alison and Neil Fyfe) made it out of Group D, but they did it the hard way, finishing W3 L3 and needing to beat Italy in the tiebreaker, which they did 8-7, and then Turkey in a final qualifying game to make the 1/8 finals (won 7-5 after an extra end).

In the last 16, Scotland faced a formidable opponent in the shape of reigning champions Hungary. They were 4-2 down after four ends but fought back and played an exceptional eighth end to steal one and win 6-5.

England scored twos in ends two, three and five as they overcame Korea 7-5, but Ireland gave up a five in end seven to lose 10-5 to Finland.

The Irish pair did beat Hungary 10-8 in the B event quarter-finals though, guaranteeing Ireland Olympic points for 2018, before rounding off their competition with losses to Slovakia (12-2) and Austria (9-6) to place 12th overall.

Come the quarter-finals, Scotland played Canada – they stole one in end four, scored two in end six and took their one in end eight to win 6-5.

England found themselves 7-0 down after three ends against the USA and despite scoring four in end four they lost out 12-6, bringing an end to their excellent run. Defeats to Estonia (10-8) and Finland (6-3) in the ranking games put them in a very commendable eighth place for the competition.

Scotland started their semi-final against China well, scoring three in end two, but China got two in end three and then steals of one in ends four to seven, meaning Scotland’s two in end eight was not enough – the Chinese winning 7-5.

They just missed out on a medal too – losing the bronze medal game 9-7 to the USA – but that should not take away from what was a fantastic run for Aitken and Mouat, who have hoovered up plenty of Olympic qualifying points for GB looking ahead to 2018.

Gold went to Russia (Anastasia Bryzgalova and Alexander Krushelnitskiy), who defeated China 7-5 to triumph.

***

Taking place in Karlstad at the same time as the World Mixed Doubles, the World Senior Curling Championships saw Scotland women go undefeated on their road to gold.

The team (Jackie Lockhart, Christine Cannon, Isobel Hannen, Margaret Richardson, Margaret Robertson (alternate)) were W7 L0 in their pool – beating Italy 9-1, Switzerland 8-1, New Zealand 8-1, Austria 8-1, Russia 10-3, Germany 6-5 (after an extra end) and the USA 6-5.

Scotland men (Gordon Muirhead, Norman Brown, David Hay, Hugh Aitken) also qualified from their pool, with wins over the Czech Republic (7-4), Latvia (7-2), Russia (11-4), Germany (7-2), Belgium (13-2), Wales (9-5) and Switzerland (6-1), and one loss to the USA (7-6 after an extra end).

England men just missed out on the playoff places, finishing W5 L3 in their pool, while Wales men had a W3 L5 record.

Sadly the quarter-finals proved the limit for Muirhead’s rink, losing out 4-3 to Canada (who won silver, as Sweden took gold and Ireland the bronze).

No such problems for Lockhart’s women though. Topping their group meant they went straight into the semi-finals, where they overcame Sweden 8-6 with a two in the extra end – Sweden went on to win bronze with a 10-5 win over England, who had come first in their pool on W8 L0.

The final against Germany was another tight affair – Scotland scored twos in ends four and seven but it went to an extra end, where Lockhart got her one to win 5-4 and claim gold!

***

Three Scottish teams took part in the men’s competition at the European Masters in St Gallen, open to the top ranked teams on the Curling Champions Tour this season.

Team Murdoch topped the standings by beating compatriots Team Brewster 5-4, Team Edin 4-1, Team Keller 8-1, Team Van Dorp 7-3, Team Smith 5-4 and Team Zang 7-1 – with only one loss, 6-3 against Team Michel.

Smith had a strong start with wins over Van Dorp (4-1), Zang (6-3) and Michel (6-1) – but losses to Brewster (7-5) and Murdoch rocked them back. They overcame Keller 4-2 but a 7-4 defeat to Edin saw them miss out on making the final – the Swedes going through to face Murdoch instead.

Beginning with three defeats (to Murdoch and then Keller and Edin) meant Tom Brewster’s rink were up against it to make the final, and they couldn’t quite make it despite beating Smith, Van Dorp (4-3), Zang (7-2) and Michel (5-4).

In the final, Murdoch scored three in end five and stole two in end six to overcome Edin 6-3 and take the title. Keller beat Smith 5-3 in the bronze game.

Scotland were represented in the women’s event by Team Muirhead (with Nadine Lehmann of Team Pätz filling in for the injured Anna Sloan).

Muirhead began with two losses – 8-5 to world champions Team Feltscher and 6-5 to Team Sigfridsson – but victories over Teams Wrana (6-4), Driendl (8-3) and Wang (8-4), plus other results going their way – saw them into the final.

They weren’t able to finish the job though – Feltscher scored five in end one and Muirhead couldn’t quite pull it back, the Swiss winning 6-5. Bronze went to Daniela Driendl’s German rink.

The Muirhead rink (again with Lehmann subbing in) join Teams Mouat and Murdoch in competing in the curtain-closer for the season – the Grand Slam of Curling Champions Cup, running from tomorrow until Sunday, May 1.

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